The 2002 season marks Kentucky softball coach Beth Pruitt's sixth season at the helm of the Wildcats. The only coach to ever call the UK dugout home, Kirchner begins the 2002 campaign with a record of 116-194 in the Bluegrass.
The 2000 SEC Coach of the Year has seen the program grow from the ground up, being named the UK's first ever softball coach on Dec. 20, 1995. Although the program could not post back-to-back SEC East Division Championships after bringing home the title in 2000, the Cats did reach the SEC Tournament for the second straight year under Kirchner's watch.
Pruitt's success at bringing in the highest caliber student-athletes around creates an atmosphere that shows Kirchner is succeeding in her goals. She believes that while all players must be athletes - they are students first, and she presents four goals for the student-athlete.
1. All athletes graduate.
"I picked this up in my last coaching stint because if you base your program on these four expectations, you will be successful." Pruitt explained.
The emphasis on quality student-athletes is evident in the continual increase in the number of softball players earning a spot on the SEC Academic Honor Roll each year. This past season, junior Angie Dal Pozzo was named a Second-Team GTE Academic All-American while the graduated Leslie Kwiatkowski was named to the GTE All-American All-District IV Second-Team twice during her stay in the Commonwealth. The NFCA, of which Pruitt is a member, named four Wildcats 2001 All-America Scholar Athletes.
Pruitt expects her athletes to exhibit strong character and a willingness to help others, translating to better teamwork on the field. The Wildcats have served food at God's Pantry, assisted the Salvation Army, visited the Shriners Hospital, in addition to numerous other community events.
Pruitt's previous stop on her coaching journey was for four seasons at South Dakota State. As head coach at SDSU from 1992-95, she posted a 72-101-1 record. In 1998, Kirchner was inducted into the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Association Softball Hall of Fame.
Pruitt has been an assistant coach at Sioux City (Iowa) East High School (1997-98), SDSU (1998-89) and Ball State (1990-91).
Pruitt started four years at Iowa, earning All-Big Ten honors three times. She ended her playing career in 1995 after competing as a member of the gold medal-winning 1995 U.S. National Softball Team.
Pruitt resides in Lexington with her husband Frank.
Year at Kentucky: Sixth